Monday, 27 January 2014

Wasteland, Volume 1: Cities in Dust Review (Antony Johnston, Christopher Mitten)

Set in a post-Apocalyptic world, something called the Big Wet has (ironically) left Earth a desert planet and wiped out civilisation. In its place are small scavenger towns scattered about defending themselves from the attacks of roving gangs of sandpeople (malformed humans). Ramshackle cities have sprung up and a new society has appeared with a new religion and a mad leader. After Michael, a scavenger, shows up in the town of Providens, the town is destroyed and the survivors head off to Newbegin, the nearest human city, for sanctuary.

Wasteland sounds mildly interesting but it’s far less so. The protagonist, Michael, is a very one-dimensional hero character – he’s the capable, tough loner who’s nonetheless helping out a group of vulnerable people. Han Solo minus the personality, basically. The others… well, there’s a tough female character who’ll probably wind up with Michael in later books. And then there’s…um…that guy…nope! That’s how interesting these characters are! The bad guy is like an anime archetype, at least on the surface – underneath he’s your usual tyrant whose power has gone to his head and he’s going a bit crazy, Caligula-style.

The whole book is basically walking – the group walking from their burned town to the city, so if you like Lord of the Rings, you’ll probably get a kick out of that. For some reason the “Big Wet” means we’ve all devolved into a hyper-religious pagan/superstitious society. The sandpeople are just Star Wars ripoffs. There’s something about different racial groups in the city being persecuted but really none of these things make me want to continue with this series. 

The art doesn’t help. I don’t have a problem with black and white art but some colour could’ve been useful in distinguishing between characters. They all live in the desert so mostly wear flowing, baggy robes which covers up their faces and obscures their bodies so they all look alike. That and the uninspired backdrop of sand and junk and it’s an unexciting and very dull comic to look at visually. 

I’m not a big fan of post-apocalyptic stories but even by those standards I think this book was very sub-par. It’s not doing enough to stand out from the others, and frankly it’s an extremely boring book. I didn’t care about any of the characters, their plight, this dreary world they lived in, or anything at all. Wasteland has its fans as it’s gone on for many volumes but I’m definitely not one of them.

Wasteland Book One: Cities in Dust

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